1963

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Help if you want, he said, and so we set about 
clearing the path of snow from door to road 
before the sky, already gravid, a grey clout, 

took umbrage and dumped another load 
on us. He shouldered it like a gun, 
like a man going to war, his favourite spade, 

the one with the shit-off-a-shovel shine 
to the blade, solid as himself, the shaft 
and handle both made of seasoned pine. 

Sometimes just looking is enough to know the weight 
of a thing, to know and feel its heft, 
form and function dovetailed into perfect fit. 

Outside the door he stopped to let 
a minute pass, to weigh it up, he said, the task 
at hand. Only then did he take the spade, lift it 

and bring it down, slicing through the jewelled casket 
of frozen snow, not digging so much as delving, 
the blade disappearing with each brisk 

cut until a block was ready to be levered out. Following 
suit, I picked up my spade and tried the same, 
only to come to grief at first, not realising 

what a burden of weight a spadeful can be, even of dreams, 
what it is to move sleep from here to there --- no, 
slumber, which we piled against a wall until the thaw. 

◄ THYLACINE*

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Comments

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Tony Hill

Tue 27th Oct 2020 21:25

Glad to have brought back happy memories, Paul. Tony

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Paul Sayer

Tue 27th Oct 2020 18:37

As a boy of eight I remember it well
The outside lavy was cold as hell.
the pan was frozen over for days on end
the greenhouse heater
the stink of paraffin.

The drift reaching up to the bedroom window
the wall of snow covering the door below.

Downstairs total darkness in the middle of the day
These things I remember like yesterday.

Tony, I wish to thank you so much for rekindling those childhood memories.

A very emotive poem.
Po.

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Tony Hill

Mon 26th Oct 2020 21:39

Thanks, Philipos. It was a long winter, though one which I enjoyed. Tony

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Tony Hill

Mon 26th Oct 2020 21:36

Thanks for the kind words, Greg. My dad could wield a spade when called upon. I remember the height of the drifts and my mother knitting balaclavas, which never seemed to fit!! Tony

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Greg Freeman

Mon 26th Oct 2020 21:26

Beautiful piece of work, Tony. Deserves to sit alongside poems about he death of Sylvia Plath. That was some winter. I still remember it, the mountains of piled ice that the council workmen left in the swimming pool car park, that we roamed and fought in after school each day. Echoes of Heaney here, too.

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Philipos

Mon 26th Oct 2020 19:53


Enjoyed that Tony - nice read.

Blessings.

P 👍

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